Hospital CIOs Report More EHR Use, Question Interoperability


More hospitals are adopting electronic health records, but health care providers still see interoperability as a significant challenge to EHR use, according to a survey by the Optum Institute, Healthcare IT News reports (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 2/16).

Survey Methodology

Harris Interactive conducted the survey of 301 U.S. hospital CIOs between December 2011 and January 2012.

Survey respondents cited six main technology concerns, including:

  • Interoperability;
  • Increasing technology-related spending;
  • Gaps in important health care information;
  • Utilizing cloud-based systems;
  • Preparing for the federal health reform law; and
  • Meaningful use compliance.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Walsh, CMIO, 2/15).


The survey found that about 87% of hospitals have an EHR system in place, a significant increase from 2011 when the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society reported that only slightly more than 50% of CIOs said their organization had a fully operational EHR system in at least one facility.

According to the findings:

  • 70% of CIOs said their EHRs meet Stage 1 meaningful use criteria; and
  • 75% of CIOs anticipated being ready to attest to Stage 2 meaningful use standards by 2014.

However, the survey found that many CIOs still are concerned about increasing costs and obstacles relating to a lack of interoperability between EHR systems, as well as about incomplete data transferred through health information exchanges.


Carol Simon, director of the Optum Institute, said that bundling payments and improving population health will be difficult without interoperable systems. "Interoperability is the litmus test to managing broader patient care and sustainability on the cost side," Simon said (Healthcare IT News, 2/16).

Simon Stevens, chair of the Optum Institute, noted that "hospital CIOs are clearly signaling that technology gaps remain, genuine interoperability remains elusive, and -- as a result -- most U.S. hospitals are still some way off from being fully ready to play their part in managing population health and its related financial risk" (CMIO, 2/15).

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